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Health, Social Care and the "Dementia Tax"

You can hardly have missed the recent headlines about health and social care; from bed blocking to the hastily abandoned social care proposals of the general election. Who pays for care is the big issue no one seems willing to tackle.

A dementia tax?

The dementia tax refers to the current unfair arrangements around paying for care.  Put simply, if your needs are deemed to be ‘health,’ the full cost of your care will be met by the NHS, but if those needs are classed as ‘social,’ you pay the full cost, until or unless your capital is below the ‘threshold’ of £23,250 and even then you will pay a contribution to your fees.  This means that the decision about whether your needs are ‘health’ or ‘social’ will mean the difference between paying thousands, or nothing for your care.

The unfairness stems from the fact that the type of illness you have is likely to have a significant impact on which side of the health and social divide you end up on.  Whilst there is a widespread consensus that those with cancer, for example, have ‘health’ needs, those with dementia (and many other debilitating illnesses) are generally seen as having ‘social’ care needs.

Here’s where we come in..

You won’t be surprised to know that the decision about whether your needs are ‘health’ or ‘social’ is not a straightforward one.  Hospital discharge procedures, adult social care assessments and most importantly NHS continuing healthcare assessments all determine the type of care you need and ultimately who pays.  It really is a case of what you know and that’s where we can help.

Our team, including solicitors and a nurse, help hundreds of families each year to navigate this often fraught system.  For the cost of one or two weeks nursing care, we scrutinise care records and liaise with care providers to represent you, giving you reassurance that you have the best possible opportunity of your needs being considered  ‘health’ rather than ‘social’ care.

It really is the case of social care being the poor relation of the NHS and families are regularly left to fend for themselves as social care teams struggle to cope with ever decreasing resources.  The arbitrary line between what is ‘health’ and ‘social’ care has become a battleground and source of worry for many families.  This looks set to continue, not least because the latest budget blatently ignores social care.

By Louise Courtney

If you have a query regarding assessments or information about paying for care, call Debbie Anderson, Head of our Health and Community Care Team on 01926 491181

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